New Frontiers in Education Part 2

(The 1st “Homeschool” many of us remember, reading aloud with grandma. Pictured are Aimee Packard’s sons, Theo and Charles being read to by her mother Patrica Wells)

Welcome back if you are returning to read this sequel to New Frontiers in Education (Part 1- The Why’s of Homeschooling).  If you are a new reader to Modern Pioneer Family and interested in the topic of Homeschooling (or interested in supplementing the education your child is recieving from a public or private school), then we encourage you to read our previous post on this subject.

I asked my dear friend, Aimee Packard, a homeschooling mother of two wonderful boys, to write a guest post for us on my blog about Homeschooling (as a New Frontierr in Education.)  It just happens that Aimee is very passionate about this topic and not only did a fabulous job writing about it, she went above and beyond and wrote 2 guest posts for us to read and consider here on Modern Pioneer Family.

One of the reasons I wanted to cover this topic is that in the Colonial and Pioneering periods in North American (both in the United States and Canada, our northern neighbor), education of the family within the home was a mainstay of our culture.  Even when those homes were represented by a covered wagon for families moving westward, children were being educated.

There still exists in North America today where public schools are so few and far between that parents consider homeschooling a better option than busing their children 40 miles or more one way to the nearest school (that would be the length of the trip if the family drove it, add in the school bus route and you could easily end up with a 2 hour trip one way  or more for students to just to get to school and another 2 hours + to return home.)  If school began at 8:20 am and got out at 3:30 (an average school day most places), this could easily put a kindergartener getting on the bus at 6 am (probably waking up at 5 am) and not  returning home until after 5:30, if they happened to be the kids furthest from the school.  This is a situation my own family has faced at our current public school and when the school district was considering consolidation with the next nearest school which would have added at least another 45 minutes each way, well that would not have been an option we’d have chosen as a family had it materialized.  By the time our boys get home, do their few little farm chores (feeding the dogs, rabbits and chickens and gathering eggs) and eat supper they are too tired or too irritable to really apply themselves to doing any assigned homework.  Thus both their grades and their learning is compromised.  If, I want to keep them caught up to their grade level, I must supplement their education on weekends, school holidays and in the summer.

Another reason I asked Aimee to write these posts, is that my oldest Farmer Boy, Charles is deeply interested in doing  his “schooling” as it was done during the Pioneering Period of American history.  He longs for a one-room schoolhouse and a tiny class consisting mostly of his siblings in which he can get all the personal help he needs to learn.  The larger public school classroom (while it does help with many of his social skills challenges) seems to be too distracting for him to adequetly  learn his most difficult subjects like reading for comprehension and other subject matter heavy in reading skills (social studies, science).  Farmer Boy Charles, has requested to make his sister’s playhouse into a one-room schoolhouse (at least for summer use) until his sister is old enough for playing house with her dolls, which will probably be 2 to 3 years.  The playhouse in question is larger than most storage/garden sheds, approx 10 ft x 14 ft and nearly tall enough for a small loft area to store things. (We already have 2 folding desk-chairs we found 2nd hand for $10 each and there is probably just enough room for 2 1/2 students (baby in a playpen), Ma a small table as teacher-desk, a blackboard and maybe a bookshelf for reading and art materials.  Given we have a busy, sometimes chaotic household with several dogs and other distractions, we are definitely considering using this space as a schoolroom for a time, because both boys are having serious struggles in education and the school doesn’t do the excellent job we would like to see them doing in many of the major core areas.  There is also our decided lack of a Sunday School space in which to do much of their religious education and such learning begs for a “special space” without in which to really study and play WITH GOD. (I have been teaching a curriculum of Sunday School Education called “Godly Play” based on Montessori method for over 10 years.  For info you can check out www.godlyplayfoundation.org & for resources  www.godlyplayresources.com.)

And now that I have gone into some depth about why I asked Aimee to cover the topic of Homeschool (because I felt my own children would benefit from my learning more about it mostly), here is her post for you to consider and ponder in your hearts.

New Frontiers in Education

(Part Two)

The “How-To” of Home Education

by Aimee Packard

*REPEATED Disclaimer:  I am going to discuss how to home school; actually I am going to discuss how to gather information if you want to really research home education for your family, this post really doesn’t talk about the how-to of homeschooling at all, not in a daily schedule or curriculum for a certain grade level sort of way.  However, none of this, or any of my comments should be taken as an attack on parents that choose to use the public school as a tool to educate their children.  This piece will be pro-home education

There are many basic steps to “seriously thinking about homeschooling”.  I will list them out, and talk about them, give you a few options and starting places.  Again, remember entire books are written about this topic, and actually about some of the subtopics; this is a brief concise starting point, how-to get started in seriously considering the option to homeschool or the option to supplement a lackluster education being provided in public schools at home with additional help for struggling students or to cover subject matter NOT covered in local schools.   However I am not going to be put them in a strict order.  I’ll order them for the sake of writing clarity; but the order you choose to approach the steps in doesn’t need to conform to my sequence.  Everyone thinks, takes in data, and processes information differently, that is what makes homeschooling work.  Adults are no different than children – and we all have our own “needs” when approaching a new, or not so new, topic.

Let me say from the start I LOVE my library and I love my librarian and I LOVE that she does Inter-Library-Loan (I.L.L.) for me.  (I love her for many reasons, but her active I.L.L. is on the top of the list).  It is a strict rule of mine I do not buy any homeschooling book – either for my own edification, or to use directly with the kids – with out physically viewing it first.  I have requested so many books I.L.L. (because we have a small local library) and been so glad I did when I did not like them; or after reading the book once did not feel it was worth buying to own.  Get to know your librarian!!!  He or she will be an amazing resource for you now, and especially as you start to educate at home.  Request books you library doesn’t have; check them out, read books before you buy (or decide not to).  There are so many good books out there; search on amazon.com and then go to the library.  You’ll find some you need to own; you find some you don’t read more than a chapter of and some you will be glad you read once, but can always request again later if you want to reread it.

  1. There are many “schools      of thought” on home education; Montessori (http://www.montessori.edu/) ,      Waldorf (http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/),      classical, Charlotte Mason (http://simplycharlottemason.com/      — one of my all-time favorite homeschool websites, by the way),      un-schooling.

We are a classical education family that schools at home: that means our education at home some what resembles the school classroom, with many text books, work books and seat work.  We seek a classical education; one based in great books and a challenging outline (see more here: https://scribinglife.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/classical-education-at-home/ ).  When you start reading, you will find a “theme” that fits your personality and your family, and your faith, and then go from there.  Look at all the books and websites and media available as a big buffet.  It doesn’t hurt to look, even to try a taste.  Take what you want, what works, and leave the rest; but do not be afraid to LOOK,

1.    One free resource is http://www.currclick.com/product/22668/Homeschooling–The-Other-Side-of-Education?it=1  Homeschooling- The Other Side of Education.  It is a much more complete look at what I have been discussing in these two posts.  It is free and a fast easy read.  This e-book is worth the time to cover the basics.

2.    http://classicalacademicpress.com/images/free_resources/20091210_ICE.pdf  is another FREE e-books (about 45 pages if I remember correctly) that give a solid introduction to Classical Education.   It is an excellent resource.  Even if you do not feel drawn to Classical Ed it is a good (FREE) read to start you thinking and asking question about education.

3.    State laws for the State you live in.  Every state has laws that govern home schooling, school attendance and school recording.  LEARN YOUR LAWS.  If you are in a highly regulated state and thus will be expected to do a great deal of reporting and recording, that could realistically affect you schooling choice.  http://www.hslda.org/laws/ is certainly a starting point; just be sure you are aware of what is legally required of you in your home state.  Knowing the laws to which you are required to adhere will help you in making your homeschooling decisions and it also will help you defend your rights to homeschool, if there is ever a problem with your school district, local or state government.  If you know your rights as a homeschooling family, then you will know if educational officials ever try to encroach on those rights.

  1. Network.  Find support.  Most states have yahoo groups.  My locations have live support groups (Park Day and other events are very common).  Make connections, homeschooling can be very lonely; and experienced home education families can be a Godsend to get you up and running and though that first year (or that first year of high school). Join a message board to two; great conservation and tons of experienced parents happy to help you.
  2. Surf the web!!!  There are some great sites (and some real losers too).  Look around, browse.
  3. A good site, not so much how to, or why to: but to show you what tools are out there to help you, to guide you, and to assist you in educating your children, either full time or after school if you decide the education they are currently receiving is not up to muster (and trust me, test scores be damned, it is not) go to your local library and check out (or request on inter-library-loan) 100 Top Picks for Home school Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach for Your Child’s Learning Style by Cathy Duffy.  The last actual publication was 2005 (I hope there will be a new one soon) but there is up-to-date data on her website.  http://cathyduffyreviews.com/.
  4. http://oldfashionededucation.com/
  5. http://www.homeschooldiner.com/ is a fun site, and not overwhelming.
  6. http://www.welltrainedmind.com/  join the discussion board too – very active.  (I am there)
    1. Finally, most important, is READ, read, read, read…..here are a few suggestions to get you started.  Look them up on amazon.com and look at all the linked books, explore – be a kid again, nothing you look at or read can hurt you.  If you do not like it leave it and go on.  There are many many good books out there, and many great websites.  All you have to do, all you can do, is start reading and educate yourself about your child’s education.
    2. The Well Trained Mind. http://www.amazon.com/The-Well-Trained-Mind-Classical-Education/dp/0393067084/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333066699&sr=1-1  It is a blue print to home education, both they why (not from a Christian stand point, from and education stand point) and the how.  Read it now, even if you never plan to home school
    3. Honey for a Child’s Heart. http://www.amazon.com/Honey-Childs-Heart-Gladys-Hunt/dp/0310242460/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333066983&sr=1-1   By Hunt the power of reading with your children, no matter where they do their school work.  The greatest power a parent has is the power of reading.
    4. When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today  http://www.amazon.com/When-Children-Love-Learn-Application/dp/1581342594/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333068776&sr=1-1
    5. Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home http://www.amazon.com/Real-Learning-Education-Heart-Home/dp/0971889511/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333749060&sr=1-3
    6. Finally one I have not yet read; but really want to:  Educating the Whole Hearted Child — Third Edition http://www.amazon.com/Educating-WholeHearted-Child-Third-Edition/dp/1932012958/ref=pd_sim_b_24

Remember if you choose to educate your child fully at home, or to supplement, you are not facing teaching everything a child needs to learn and you have forgotten off the top of your head.  There are books and full curriculums to walk you though it; you are not alone.  There are  many resources out there that are available for free or of little cost, so do not be daunted in your desire to educate at home by advertisements for expensive full-curriculums that all insist they are THE BEST, you can pick and choose from affordable and/or free lesson plans and materials to piece together a curriculum that will suit your child’s needs.

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